Plowking – Plant The Foot©2005 Mad Butcher Records South Germany brings us more smooth ska in the band Plowking. I don't know if they got their name from Homer "Mr. Plow" Simpson's rival, but I suspect they did. Aside from that, "Plant The Foot" is 9 full ska tracks and a happy melodic intro. I can't really surmise if Europe is behind the times in the ska scene, or there is just a way larger appreciation over there. None the less, I love the fact that there is still an outlet for quality diverse ska across the world, even though it is a bit of a popularity nadir here in the states. I couldn't glean a whole lot of info from the bands website and I just threw away the one sheet, so I'll just have to express that Plowking is a sweet 8 piece ska band. They embody a commonality and purpose that makes the world less huge, from despising the highschool hero to appreciating a sunny day when the cops aren't around. Good times, good music. Let's all have some beers and enjoy Plowking.{mos_sb_discuss:3}  

Nathan Asher & The Infantry

Nathan Asher & The Infantry – Sex Without Love©2005 Infantry Publishing Hailing from Raleigh, NC Nathan Asher & The Infantry and equal parts Springsteen and Whiskeytown. They present a striking dichotomy to other artists in their respective age bracket. "Sex Without Love" comes across as several decades more mature than the collective ages of the members. (who all appear to have been born around the early eighties) A classic case of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts and sporting a 6 member line up this is no easy task. The musicianship is solid and the songs subtly crafted. Though this isn’t exactly the normal fare here at upstarter, if you have any sort of anthemic alt-county/rock bent, check out Nathan Asher and the Infantry.

Evans Blue

Evans Blue – The Melody and the Energetic Nature of Volume©2006 Hollywood Records Perhaps I’m hard to impress. Perhaps I don’t like the mainstream. Likely it is both. Evans Blue’s new CD "The Melody and the Energetic Nature of Volume" out now on Hollywood Records is what I would lump into the "ok" pile. Reminiscent of Tool and Perfect Circle the band ebbs and flows through 11 tracks of radio length rock. I can totally see people not head banging to this as some nameless video is played on Headbanger’s Ball.

The Dirtier Inch: Volume 2

V/A – The Dirtier Inch: Volume 2©2005 Beer Metal Records Punk Rock from Seattle? You freakin' bet your ass! What we have here is "The Dirtier Inch: Volume 2" 28 Old School, skull bustin, mohawk sportin' punk rock songs from the land of grunge. I am not going to expound on any of the 28 tracks in specific, but sufficed to say, this comp rocks. I don't know anything about Volue 1, but if that is available, go damn get 'em both.

It’ll Grow Back

It'll Grow Back – Seduce & Destroy© 2005 Getfaced RecordsThis week I'm reviewing Seduce & Destroy by Fresno's own It'll Grow Back. I must ask myself, will it? Will it grow back? And further more, what happened?Picture, or more importantly hear, this; the bastard 3 way love child between Danzig, Newbomb Turks and Dead Kennedys. Seducy & Destroy is a quirky and crunching 10 song disc of short sweet tracks. Clocking in at just under 20 minutes it is totally perfect for that morning commute (provided that your's is also just under 20 minutes)The big seller here for me is that It'll Grow Back, despite having somewhat obvious influence, aren't a knockoff band. The have a genuine punk rock and roll quality all their own. The mix seems a little muddy to me right now, but that may well be my head.Bottom Line: Fresno you say? Go Figure!<J /> 

Mike Park

Mike Park – North Hangook Falling© 2005 Sub City / Asianman RecordsMike Park’s second solo release carries on in the same vein as the previous “For the Love of Music”, insofar as it being largely vocals over acoustic guitar. “North Hangook Falling” expands on the instrumentation of the first by adding more electricity and occasional string sections.Though a far cry from the ska of Skankin’ Pickle or The Bruce Lee Band, Mike Park’s solo work is very compelling and often very solemn. The content and seeming introspection make me draw a comparison between this CD and Steve Earle’s “Transcendental Blues” it isn’t direct, but something I just can’t pinpoint is there. Overall the disc has a somber tone, especially with the addition of the strings; it makes for a good listen to depress out to, with a redemption and catharsis at the end.Mike has a very consistent and likeable style with sad melodies and memorable yet haunting lyrics. In addition to “North Hangook Falling” being a great CD, a portion of the proceeds go to the Plea for Peace Foundation.The disc contains 12 tracks and clocks in at 38:43 Highlights include Track 2. Keeping the Seat Warm and Track 12 a live version of Blue Marble (this on is great) there is also a remake of “Korea is So Far Away” I prefer the original, but there’s no harm in <J /> Jerry Actually


fivespeed – Morning Over Midnight © 2006 Virgin Records “I’ll give it up to get it all” declares the lyrics on the “Fair Trade” the opening track of “Morning Over Midnight” the new release from Virgin Records recording artists, fivespeed, in stores now. This statement seems overly apt for a band that is screaming to be mainstream. The tracks are all groomed to the ultra Clear Channel and MTV friendly approximate 3.5 minute mark. The overall sound has an aggressive but non-threatening flavor which is occasionally punctuated by some heavy emotional power ballads. The musicianship is solid and the production value great. I just find that it lacks guts. If you wanna be the next big thing on the band wagon, that is fine by me, and apparently you. Verdict: If you are down with radio rock and MTV2, this is for you. Jerry Actually   

The Specs

Declaration of Independence – (c) 2005 The Specs New Jersey's The Specs (formerly The Superspecs) are a 6 piece band out of the North side of the state. "Declaration of Independece" is a plus sized EP featuring 6 full length tracks and 2 musical preamble/interlude parts. The songs are an eclectic mix of pop, punk and bits of emo. Track 3 (Good Luck (This Time)) has a striking reminiscence to the song writing style of Less Than Jake, albeit minus the horns. Not that The Specs are completely lacking in horns, but on Declaration of Independence, it appears they like to more strongly feature them in intro pieces. An amusing cover of "Straight Up" is also included. Kudos to the specs for a unique EP that shows that you can have a likeable sound without being a cookie cutter.http://www.specsrock.comJerry Actually   

Umbrella Bed – One Small Skank For Man


© 2005 Mad Butcher Records

one-small-skank-for-manUmbrella Bed brings me back to the glory days of the third wave harkening the likes of Undercover SKA and Mock Turtle Soup. The unusually named Minnesota ska outfit plays a handsome blend of ska with soul with a klezmer touch. Oddly for an American band, they have a strangely European sound…go figure.

Bottom line: extremely likeable and very danceable.

-Jerry Actually

Skannibal Party 5

Various Artists – Skannibal Party 5 © 2005 Mad Butcher RecordsSkannibal Party 5 is an awsome collection of ska from around the globe. Featuring 22 tracks from exotic locales from Russia (Skapel) to Venezuela (Desorden Publico) to Utah (Two and A Half White Guys). Compilations like this help to open eyes to the similarities of people around the world instead of fearing and attacking them because of thier differences. It gives me great comfort to know that kids in Argentina are skanking to Dulces Diablitos and Papas Ni Pidamos Meanwhile halfway around the world other kids are dancin' it up in Serbia with Los Propelleros. Thank the world for ska. Go get this comp and celebrate diversity in knowing that the world over, there are people just like you. Actually